Brand Ambassador Select
How We Can Make the World Better with Renewables with Kimberlee Centera, CEO of TerraPro Solutions Ep. 75
“I think we’ve built kind of a unique framework of services because there’s a lot of folks that understand maybe one piece of the project, they understand that they can go negotiate a lease for you.
But what they may not understand is the implications of those terms and provisions the implications.“
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Lenore Luca Welcome back to the brand ambassador swag podcast where we are showing the coolest brands and gifts along with featuring movers and makers. I’m your host Lenore and today we’re joined by a trailblazer in the renewable energy industry. So Kimberlee Centera, the CEO and founder of TerraPro Solutions, is the only female CEO of a privately held utility scale renewable energy consulting practice. She is the leader in development of utility scale wind, solar and energy storage projects. And she joins us today to share the importance of renewable energy in today’s society. So, Kimberlee Centera, welcome to the brand ambassador slug podcast.
Kimberlee Centera Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.
Lenore Luca So, I’d love to hear all about TerraPro Solutions because you’re the creator. You’re the founder, you’re the CEO. Give us all the details.
Kimberlee Centera Wow. I obviously I love to talk about what I do and my business and boy women, and it’s really not political. It’s just that when I looked around the room to hire all the smart people, you know, most of them were women that I wanted to bring on board. So, we have a great business. We are risk mitigation specialists in consulting, and we specialize in the development, construction financing of renewable energy projects across the United States. So, it’s really fun. It’s a challenging business and you know, it’s about relationships, and you really have to, hopefully you love the people that you work with, because it’s super challenging. It’s tough, and you’re in the trenches together. And a lot of people think, Oh, well, you’re the good guys. It should be really easy climate change and everybody wants that to happen and of course, we all think it’s great. But when it comes to being in the weeds, and really making these projects happen, it’s really hard. And so, it’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of hard work.
Lenore Luca So, you said you’ve been doing this for 25 years, what have you really learned about renewables over that that span of time.
Kimberlee Centera I think what I really love about renewables is at the end of the day, it changes people’s lives. And, you know, my passion has been around the people. And I was had the privilege of working early in renewables and I love the people that worked in renewables early because it took you had to be a visionary. I mean, when we were meeting with landowners in Texas and Colorado and Wyoming and these people really had to have a vision for the future. And, you know, we’ve spent a lot of time talking and I it’s interesting to me that the rural areas, face a lot of the same changes that a lot of our country does, you know, there’s migration, all the young people are leaving. And so these people want to be able to build a legacy and keep a legacy. And so renewables was one of the ways that income that ability to have the projects was a way for them to diversify incomes, be able to keep the family farm the family property, you know, in the family and keep that legacy going when maybe things were shifting. So, it was really about for me it was about the people and really being able to work, you know, work with the people and I think we bring that now to our consulting business because I think one of the reasons why we have success is that we want to engage with everyone. It’s about communities. So thinking about renewable, it’s really about communities. And that started really grassroots and that part really hasn’t changed. It’s become even more important, I think, for communities to be involved, and there’s certainly a lot more focus on renewables. It’s an energy, you know, obviously, we’re all thinking about that, especially as we’ve looked at now quarantining and how great that’s been for our carbon footprint and you know, you look at you know, the maps of LA and how you know, the smart this all the smog is clear. So, I mean, that’s really exciting. But I think in renewables, really, it’s, it’s always been about the people it’s been about the community and that has been the fundamental aspect of it. And that really hasn’t changed over all these years.
Lenore Luca I have been saying for like the past couple months like I really hope people are recently getting all the data to see how much non smog and you know, pollution is in the air from like, half maybe 75% of the American population now working from home. I was looking at that it definitely had to do something to the ozone layer. Definitely it had to do something to like you said even just the sky in general looking up, it’s like, wow, I can I can see the stars like I can see above me now.
Kimberlee Centera It’s absolutely I think and, you know, obviously, you know, how could you ever have orchestrated this to see those kinds of effects, right. I mean, there’s just no way I mean, you can go driving now during what used to be mainstream traffic at five o’clock, and you can be somewhere in 20 minutes, and it’s like, oh, my gosh, I forgot what it was like to not have that. So I think from that standpoint, some of the benefits of this year have been just that really eye opening fact that we can make a difference. You know, these kinds of things really do change things and they can change for the better. So that will be one of the things that we’ll look back on and say yep, we you know, it was good from that standpoint, for sure.
Lenore Luca So at TerraPro Solutions, who are some of your clients and that you take on is it everyday people or is it more like businesses and corporations?
Kimberlee Centera Typically, it’s more corporations. It’s really developers. So, a lot of the companies that develop from in some respects they might be the deregulated part of a utility. They may be a large international utility that wants the presence to be able to, to be able to develop projects. In the most cases, it’s developers that are looking to develop utility scale. So you know, you obviously you hear a lot about rooftop and you know, the Walmart’s, and all of that targets that are putting in, you know, the distributed on top of their buildings. That’s one kind of project. A lot of our projects are all new. ground mount. So they’re ground mount solar, or they’re obviously wind projects. And so it’s the companies that are doing that. Some of our other clients are title companies or banks. They might be other parties that have interest in these projects and they want to understand some of the risks and they want to be able to, you know, right now, there’s a there’s really a demand, I think, besides the impacts that we’re seeing from the climate, a lot of stakeholders, a lot of companies, you know, corporations or stockholders. They want to know, you know, that accountability. They want to see some kind of involvement. So, typically, it’s developers, but it can be almost any party that wants to be involved in that project and have some help with understanding the risks and the challenges around these projects.
Lenore Luca I did my own little project, Kimberlee, like, well, that me like I hire somebody because I’m not getting to my roof. But I did my own little project and now have incorporated solar panels into my home and everyday life and they should be turning them on and just about a week or so. So I’m able to now incorporate and really just dive into renewables in my own everyday life and I’m happy about that, baby steps.
Kimberlee Centera I think it’s great and, you know, you drive around, and you see so much more solar on rooftops and, and certainly I think there’s that migration and now in California, some of the newer construction, they’re going to be already wired for solar, so they’re already going to have that smart technology. So that’s really exciting. So and I think you talked to the people that have that technology, and they’re already seeing the benefits. And I think it’s the same thing, right? You can be excited that you’re not only are you helping your energy bill and you’re saving money, but you’re also making a contribution to the environment. And I think there’s that part of it. That’s really exciting and, and as things shift, you know, when we see energy demand shift, that’s going to be a really interesting piece of that. So the more communities that do that, I think the better off it is for all of us.
Lenore Luca So where do you actually see renewable energy in the next 5 to 10 years as we continue to progress?
Kimberlee Centera I think we’re going to see much more of a role. I think we talked about the fact that we’ve already seen the benefits of what can happen when we make a shift. Right. And so obviously, this was a huge shift. It wasn’t planned. But I think it will help to drive that commitment that now that people can see there’s a change, there’s a difference. And so I think you’ll see a lot more of a commitment to that. I think you’re going to see it continue to grow. And we’re just seeing it. You know, we’re seeing for instance, with wind turbines, the technology is perfecting. So that the turbines are larger or taller. And but and what that’s meaning is that there’s a lot of areas that are opening up for development in the middle of the country that may be previously you couldn’t really develop a wind project because the wind speeds weren’t there. So you’re seeing enhancements and technology. I think you’re seeing enhancements and costs and all these things will contribute to that diversification because I think, you know, renewables in and of itself is not going to replace all the other energy sources. But what it will do is give us that diversification and help people to really make a difference in a positive way. So, I really see it just continuing to grow. I think we’re going to see expansion into other areas that maybe were off limits, because of you know, challenges. And I think you’re going to continue to see parties be focused on that. Just even to be able to reduce that carbon impacts. So, you know, obviously more corporates have moved in the area of signing those power purchase agreement is to try to incorporate renewables into their space. So, I think you’re just going to continue to see that. And yeah, we’ll move globally. I mean, one of the things that I’ve learned about renewable energy is energy is a matter of social justice. It’s a matter of all people being able to access that I had the opportunity to go to Africa, I went to Kenya, and I was really, I worked with a priest friend of mine and another friend. So we got to be with the ordinary people every day and we saw the people washing their clothes in the same water that they drink from and you know, we hear all of this but from my perspective, looking at this, knowing that you could bring forms of energy in where you could revolutionize that. And so I think on a global basis, and certainly within us, it’s a matter of having good power and economical power and access to water and all these different things. But it’s a matter of social justice to an end. So, I think, again, coming out of this year, and I think people are done talking about it, they want to see change, right? We you know, we’ve been talking about it for a long time. But how can we really manifest that change? And I think renewables and energy is a big part of that change.
Lenore Luca Just like you just telling that story, I think just really paints a picture on how even if you can bring those renewable energies to places around the entire world that those little things will make such a huge difference in their everyday activities in their everyday life and really bring them bring them up with us.
Kimberlee Centera Yes, and you think about the simple act of water, and you know, these people still carry water long distances and when you ask people you know what, what one thing can really make a difference. You know, having power having energy and whether it’s wind turbines or it’s solar and, and obviously we have an abundance of that resource with the sun. So, it can make such a huge difference. And I think also, you know, it helps women, you know, and women, a lot of times, you know, women are not that men aren’t but I think because of women’s role and caring for families and communities, women also it really helps them to change and enhance their life and having that energy. So it just, it’s something that I’m really passionate about and on a lot of levels, not just because of the environment. But I think, you know, it’s just from the social justice standpoint, like how can we make the world better for everyone and that access to power is one of the really pivotal pieces of that.
Lenore Luca So, what differentiates you and terror pro solutions from other professional consulting services that are out there?
Kimberlee Centera You know, it’s interesting because we’re frequently told that you don’t really have a lot of competition. And I think it’s, we Yeah, that’s good, right? That’s great. I mean, people talk to us and you’re like, wow, nobody else does what you do. I think we’ve built kind of a unique framework of services because there’s a lot of folks that understand maybe one piece of the project, they understand that they can go negotiate a lease for you. But what they may not understand is the implications of those terms and provisions the implications of agreeing to install an access road or agreeing to omit certain land because of a transmission interest or that you know, you there may be differences in the typography that can affect that constructability. And so, from our standpoint, we look at the totality of the project, and we want to make sure that you understand that you can agree to something on the front end, but here will be the implications on the backend. And so, we will look at something like an access road and it seems like you know, there’s a couple sentences in the lease that may not seem like a big deal, but we have a client that we ended up doing some lease review for because they had to build an access road that cost him several $100,000. And it was to you know, it was add properties to agricultural properties. So you understand you’ve got farmers, they’ve got to be able to access different parts of the property. So, but something very simple like just a sentence or two ended up costing, you know, several $100,000. And so, understanding that and what those implications are, so I think that’s really what sets us apart is we’re looking at the totality of all the different impacts. We’ve worked with all the agencies, we’ve worked with the Indian groups, we’ve worked with, you know, water districts, we work with a lot of the different stakeholders. And again, it’s about community. You really, you cannot develop an energy project of the scale that we’re doing in isolation. You have to understand who all the stakeholders are and bring those stakeholders to the table. With you. And a lot of times we’re involved early, you know, to make sure that everyone sees the benefits and everyone understands, you know, what we’re facing.
Lenore Luca So Kimberlee, as I’m learning as we’re learning along with you today, what do you think is one name, one big fact that we should know about renewables?
Kimberlee Centera I think renewables is really difficult and so I think in some cases, we need to do a better job of getting the word out there on who we are. And that as a group, as a as an approach as a as a team. And there’s a whole, you know, huge industry, people that are working, but at the end of the day, when you boil it down, they’re really care about the people. And I think we need to really get that message out for that. You are always looking for the balance. We’re always trying to manage that tension between the community and the energy needs, because at some point they have to come together. And so, I think we need policy changes. We need different changes to be able to support that. But I think to be able to get that message out there because I still talk to people and they’re like, oh, renewables really you’re doing that. That’s really up and coming. And I’m sorry, that’s kind of funny. I know. It’s like really that’s this. That’s the new thing, right? And I’ve been doing that a long time. So, I know it’s been around for a long time, but really, that’s kind of on us as an industry, right? I don’t feel like we’ve done a good enough job of getting the message out there of who we are, what we’re trying to do. The difference that it makes the industries that the industries the communities, the cities, I mean, I have seen whole cities grow up around renewables around all the jobs that come in around all the demands, you know, the hotels, the restaurants, all the different vendors. I was going I was starting in in and out of Abilene, Texas, back in the early 90s negotiating leases. And of course, there’s been a whole series of projects since then. But that whole city is it’s to me, it’s a great example of a city that’s prospered with all the impacts that you know, on the benefits. So I think that’s the message that we need to get out there is that, you know, we are really contributing and this is something that’s really viable, and it’s been around for a while.
Lenore Luca So more on Kimberlee you can head to TerraProSolutions.com That’s TERRAPROSOLUTIONS.com You can check them out on Facebook at TerraPro Solutions as well on Instagram at TerraPro_Solutions and on Twitter @TerraProS and if you want to form a chat with Kimberlee to she did tweet you back @KimTerraPro and obviously they are both on LinkedIn as well. Thank you for joining us today.
Kimberlee Centera Thank you so much. It’s been really fun. I really appreciate the opportunity.
Lenore Luca Yes, you’re welcome. But thank you for really just educating not just the listeners but myself as well on the future of renewables and really on how I can keep my eyes open on the different policy changes or on how I can even contribute to creating a better Earth for generations to come. Thank you. Well, that’s a wrap on another episode of the brand ambassador select podcast. I’m your host Lenore hit that subscribe button so you never miss one more BrandAmbassadorSelect.com and we will see you next time.
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